My first creative attempt, at the age of two and a half, was to peel off the nursery freeze that my Mother had applied to the wall minutes earlier.
I have always had a creative mind and as a child I used to send my inventions to various toy manufacturers. One of my designs was for an all enclosed sledge encapsulated in a sort of gyroscopic pod so that you stayed in a stable position as you hurtled down a snowy hill. The company – ‘Triang’- liked my design and sent me a kind and heartening letter and a doll’s cot!
Creativity was very much encouraged at my first school in Guildford. Music, art and drama were a daily activity. Unfortunately, the School closed when I was nine and subsequent Schools failed to nurture the creative spirit. It was later, at the age of fourteen, that I was inspired by Guildford School Of Art and their Photography course. I took armfuls of information home from the careers fair and enthusiastically told my parents. My Father said ‘No way’! so I lost heart and left school.
Much later I took myself to College to sit my exams and went on to read Psychology at Sussex University. I then left Sussex to study Philosophy in London.
Artistically, my background has been geared more towards photography. Painting has been a natural evolution for me and I find I am able to express different qualities. My entire family are creative and artistic, so I have had a firm foundation.
I was born in Guildford and have travelled far and wide, having a variety of really diverse jobs. I have worked as a freelance photographer, as a courier to New York, an executive in sales and marketing, and in Noise Pollution for a local authority.
I now live in Hampshire, not far from the sea and the South Downs.
From my earliest childhood, the sea with it’s continually changing moods, has always been the greatest source of inspiration for me. There is a great sense of calm and tranquility. The sound of the waves crashing, that distinctive smell and the wind on your face – in fact the whole 3-dimensional experience. I can never tire of it and it still evokes the same excitement now as it did when I was a child – running over the pebbles and sharp shells to be first to get to the sea. It is so evocative that it drives me to try to re-create it in my paintings.
There is a wonderful luminosity and reflective light quality that surrounds the coast. Everywhere else is very flat by comparison. This light quality creates ideas and inspires me.
The wild white breakers of the great Atlantic coast in Cornwall, such as Holywell Bay and Sennan Cove, and the translucent azure aquamarine tints around Studland in Dorset and Salcombe in Devon.
Although I draw most of my inspiration from the coasts around the South West, I have been very much inspired by places further afield such as the Seychelles, California and South Africa.
I like to walk over the great rolling hills of the South Downs in Sussex and Hampshire. From Butser Hill and The Trundle the sun beams down in shafts onto the sea in the distance. I try to re-create the brilliant blues that are almost tangible. Much of the way I interpret colour comes from my photographs, with the strong chromatic colours you get from transparencies.
I have also been influenced by minimalism – clean, clear lines, uncluttered, and un-chaotic – symmetry!
I like to paint in peace and to focus, and for that I need quietness.
I work in both watercolour and oil- each is very different and which medium I use depends on my mood, but it is the sea which draws me back each time.
It starts with an idea generated from perception, either from my mind or a direct perceptual experience. I then transfer the idea to a sketch or a smaller painting. What I am trying to achieve is a feeling of being able to walk straight into the sea – immersion!. I work quite fast, and whilst I am painting time takes on a different dimension.
The names of paints are so evocative. Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson,Burnt Sienna, each one is a painting in itself. I mix up the colour I want to use and work sweepingly across the paper or canvas. With oil, I build up layers of paint to create visual strength and depth of colour. Colour is a kind of catharsis for me and is therapeutic and calming. I want to transfer that feeling through my paintings to those who view it.
I set myself a work plan with strict time schedules. I have to be very disciplined with myself as I tend to get sidetracked into lots of trivialities. Once I have started to paint, usually about 10.30am, I tend to keep going until 1pm. I have to remember to stop and eat, otherwise I forget and get very grumpy.
Before I start to paint I find I get quite a build up of creative energy where I am subconsciously working out my ideas – a bit like an impending storm.
I am very energetic and I don’t like standing still, so I go to the gym or go for a walk. If I am painting until 1pm, I then have to go out and reunite myself with the rest of humanity, in other words – shopping! Otherwise you can feel too detached. I then work from 3pm until 6pm – sometimes later.
Dinner is an important event of the day for me and a time to relax and become a human being again with the person I live with.